In her second novel, Melissa Tagg delves in the story of Blake Hunziker, the man who pretended to be reality show star Miranda Woodruff's husband in Made to Last. Returning home after half a dozen years' absence, Blake is ready to make things right with his family, however hard it may be, and put down roots in his old home town. Autumn Kingsley, owner of her family's floundering inn, has been ready to fly for years, and she finally has an opportunity to work her dream job in Paris. Somehow the two end up partnering to put on the town's Christmas festival, for all that their families are like the Montagues and the Capulets, and they start breaching the rift that has been between their families for years. But all Autumn has ever wanted to do was leave, and all Blake wants now is to stay. Can they pursue their dreams without losing each other?
Although the story involves the old scandals, world travelers, and the rich and famous, it is down-to-earth, with real problems that frequently affect real people. Autumn is desperately trying to keep the bank from taking the Inn, scrambling to make enough money to keep the inn open and her beloved employees employed. At the same time, she is dealing with a family that was fractured rather than drawn close together by tragedy, and to top it off, her dreams have been simmering on the back burner so long she is afraid they will run dry and she will never be able to pursue them. She dreams of adventure, but without someone to prompt her to do it, she stays safe - and bored - in her usual routine (and that I can relate to; routine is so hard to break).
Blake has blamed himself for his brother's death for years, to the point where he left home and tried to run from the guilt. Whether or not that blame was justified, running proved ineffective, and so he is finally home to try to reconcile with his parents and friends. However, what still proves most difficult is reconciling with himself and moving forward.
While there is a fair amount of humor in the book, this is by no means a shallow story. It has a plausible plot, real-feeling characters, and several good messages to impart. What spoke to me most was the theme about dreams - both the dreams we've had from childhood and the dreams God gives us later. A solid, heart-warming, contemporary romance - 5 out of 5 stars!
For those who love author Becky Wade (My Stubborn Heart, Undeniably Yours, Meant to Be Mine), I highly recommend this novel! (And vice versa, of course.)
Related novella: "Here to Stay" (tie-in with Walker Family series)